The ASEAN Ecotourism Forum is an important forum among members of the ASEAN tourism fraternity. Organised in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), it aims to transform Governmental political and tourism development policies, promote sustainable businesses and generate jobs.Laos Tourism Minister H.E. Prof. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara welcomed all ASEAN Countries and the Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN,Dr.Lim Hong Hin.
The Forum also fosters a regional initiative to develop youth leadership among the ecotourism fraternity. The Forum welcomes emerging leaders who have quietly and tirelessly contributed to the regional tourism industry to participate actively at this Forum and be recognised.
The ASEAN Ecotourism Forum with the theme “ASEAN TOURISM WITHOUT BORDERS: ROADMAP FOR STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT OF ECOTOURISM CLUSTERS AND TOURING CORRIDORS” is held under the auspices of the ASEAN Charter.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.
The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 is a major milestone in the regional economic integration agenda in ASEAN, offering opportunities in the form of a huge market of US$2.6 trillion and over 622 million people. In 2014, AEC was collectively the third largest economy in Asia and the seventh largest in the world.
H.E. Prof.Dr.Bosengkham Vongdara said in his opening speech:” Sabaidee ( Laos word for welcome) and welcome to the ASEAN Ecotourism Forum 2016 here in Pakse Champasak Province of Laos”. The Minister:” The Ministry o Inormation, Culture and Tourism is greatly honored to host the 1st.AEF ASEAN Ecotourism Forum since the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community. Lao PDR, as Chair of ASEAN 2016 is determined to further the aspirations of ASEAN under the theme”Turning Vision into Reality for a dynamic ASEAN Community”. It is appropriate and timely for ASEAN to closely join hands in realizing the new ASEAN Vision 2025 and ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016 – 2025 (ATSP) which is by 2025, ASEAN will be a quality tourism destination offering a unique,diverse ASEAN experience, and will becommmitted to responsible sustainable, inclusive and balanced tourism development, so as to contribute significantly to the socio-economic well being of ASEAN people.
Ecotourism, so the Minister, is a sustainable form o tourism that enables tourists to experience and appreciate nature as well as understand the rich biodiversity of the region that sustains a healthy ecosystem. At the same time ecotourism helps to generate socio-economic benefits for the local communities living in harmony with the nature.
Here in Pakse we have initiated several important programs and activities where the delegates would learn and exchange ideas and share best practical experiences on ecotourism development, including the Ministerial Round Table Meeting on Pakse Declaration as well as a Green Tourism Exhibition, the workshop on ASEAN Tourism Development with the dissemination of information on tourism sites and services and a technical tour to ecotourism sites of Champasak Province.
Impressions from the first day: